Hello all –
In anticipation of our meeting tomorrow, I just wanted to throw out a couple of questions that came up for me during the readings. My apologies, but they’re more bullet points and random questions than anything organized. Will look forward to talking with everyone tomorrow.
- In his very brief piece, “The Social Contract of Scholarly Publishing,” Daniel Cohen discusses the way the “social contract of the book” transforms when moving from traditional print publishing to digital publishing. As he points out, the producers of these publications have dedicated a great deal of energy toward their side of this contract. But he claims that many “fewer efforts have been made to influence the mental state of the scholarly audience,” or what he calls the “demand side” (320). But how can we go about doing this? What would this look like? Cohen proposes the idea of community-based curation as a means of selecting publications and promoting them to consumers (321). What would this look like? Where do digital journals fall in this picture? Similarly, I find his call for greater acceptance of publications regardless of their print or digital status intriguing, but what are the problems inherent in recognizing “outstanding academic work wherever and however it is published,” whether the work comes from a blog or a peer-reviewed journal (320)?
- Cohen’s piece and others for this week, especially Witmore’s “Text: A Massively Addressable Object,” made me wonder more generally about the way materiality and aesthetics influence the shift from print to digital publication. I found Witmore’s pieces interesting for the way they seem to collapse any hard-and-fast distinction between digital and printed texts and the way we interact with (or address) them.
- Alexander Reid’s “Graduate Education and the Ethics of the Digital Humanities” touches on many of the questions we tossed around in our last meeting, regarding incorporating DH training into graduate education. He proposes the idea of a requirement that grad students acquire a “digital literacy,” which he admits would vary across disciplines. So, as in our last meeting, we’re confronted with a series of challenging questions: What constitutes a digital literacy? How can departments expect grad students (and faculty, for that matter) to simultaneously acquire and teach a digital literacy? How can this digital literacy be maintained, so that it does not become outmoded? In building resources into departments (like hiring educators with the ability to teach graduate students these skills, or establishing university-wide initiatives), how might this move inadvertently reinforce existing hierarchies already endemic to higher ed? Considering the realities of funding and resources, and especially coming from an institution with extremely limited resources (where there were lots of first-generation students, like myself), this seems to me a significant problem. On a related point, I come from an MA program that trains both PhD-bound students and students aspiring to teach in secondary ed. Would this digital literacy apply to both, or to each group in different ways? And finally, as always, this piece brings me back to Jillana’s question from the first meeting: how much of this digital literacy is just learning to use new technologies, and how much of it is learning to use new technologies to ask new questions? We might look at Reid’s description of his own department on p. 359, for example.